With 2013 behind us, it’s awards season around the world, and we’re naming the 2013 EN Rider and Horse of the Year! The EN team combed through results from last season to ultimately choose five horses and riders who excelled in the U.S. and abroad during the 2013 competition season. Now it’s up to you to vote for the winners. Read through the nominations below and vote in each poll, which will close Thursday at 10 p.m. EST. Then we’ll announce the winners Friday morning. Which horse and rider will win the elusive Golden Chinchilla? That’s up to you, EN. Go vote!
2013 EN RIDER OF THE YEAR NOMINATIONS
HAWLEY BENNETT-AWAD: Hawley Bennett-Awad started the 2013 season in truly dominant form, winning three events in a row with her superstar mare Gin & Juice: Twin Rivers Advanced, Copper Meadows Advanced and the Galway Downs CIC3*. She and Ginny then went to Rolex, where they finished in seventh place. Hawley ended her season at the Pau CCI4*, where she and Ginny finished in 16th place with what was perhaps their personal best dressage test together. Much loved by her students and fans, Hawley is a huge advocate for eventing on the West Coast and remains a backbone of the Canadian national eventing team.
JAN BYYNY: Without a doubt, no rider has shown more drive and determination this year than Jan Byyny. After overcoming the odds to return to the CCI4* level following the devastating accident she suffered in 2010, she had to withdraw Inmidair at Rolex due to an airway infection, and Syd Kent ended the weekend with a disappointing show jumping round. But she never gave up. When she clinched a very emotional win at the Fair Hill CCI3* with Inmidair, holding off a late run from longtime friend Buck Davidson, it became official: Jan is back on top. The USEA honored Jan with the Ironmaster Award at the 2013 annual convention, highlighting the incredible courage she showed last year.
BUCK DAVIDSON: No one rides more horses at events than Buck Davidson, and — as he often jokes — no one falls off more, but he always gets back on and keeps kicking; and he does it all with a smile on his face. The top-placed U.S. rider at Rolex this year with his beloved Balleynoe Castle RM in third place, Buck also finished in ninth place with Mar De Amor. Buck garnered numerous other top placings in 2013: second in the Jersey Fresh CCI3* with D.A. Adirmo, second in the Bromont CCI2* with the late Santa’s Keeper, second in the Fair Hill CCI3* with Park Trader and first in the Galway Downs CCI3* with Petite Flower. It’s no surprise he ended the season in first place on the USEA Rider Leaderboard.
MEGHAN O’DONOGHUE: Meghan O’Donoghue burst onto the international eventing scene in 2013 with her off-track-Thoroughbred gelding Pirate, a horse she campaigned from the very beginning of his career. Meghan and Pirate jumped clear around their first CCI4* at Rolex to finish 12th, which earned them a Jaqueline B. Mars Competition and Training Grant to contest their first overseas competition at the Blenheim CCI3*. Despite enormous pressure, Meghan and Pirate jumped clear around cross country to finish in 11th place out of 84 starters as the second-highest-placed American pair. Meghan showed a tremendous amount of grit and drive in 2013, garnering a huge fan following along the way.
LYNN SYMANSKY: Lynn Symansky had a breakout year in 2013 with Donner, an off-track Thoroughbred gelding she produced herself through the levels. The second-highest-placed American at Rolex, she and Donner finished in fifth on their dressage score. Lynn received a Jaqueline B. Mars Competition and Training Grants on the merits of that performance, which helped her get to the Pau CCI4*, where she and Donner finished 13th with the fastest cross-country trip of the competition. This photo of Lynn checking her watch over the final cross-country jump at Pau says it all. Lynn is truly a fierce competitor who is committed to bettering herself as a rider and making future teams.
2013 EN HORSE OF THE YEAR NOMINATIONS
BALLEYNOE CASTLE RM: One of Buck Davidson’s most recognizable mounts — and also one of his favorites — Balleynoe Castle RM started 2013 with a bang, finishing third at both the Red Hills CIC3* and The Fork CIC3*. Reggie then went to Rolex, where he finished as the highest-placed U.S. horse in third, which earned him a spot on the U.S. team at Aachen. Unfortunately, a bone bruise kept him from making the trip overseas and prematurely ended his season, but he still earned enough points during the first half of the year to finish in fifth place on the USEA SmartPak Advanced Horse of the Year leaderboard.
RF DEMETER: RF Demeter garnered numerous top placings with Marilyn Little in the irons in both the U.S. and Europe last year, finishing fourth at both The Fork CIC3* and Jersey Fresh CIC3* before crossing the pond. Demi went double clear on cross country at the Luhmuhlen CCI4* to finish in seventh place, and she had top-five placings at Blair Castle, Breda and Schenefeld — all competitive CIC3* events. She capped her season with an 18th-place finish at the Pau CCI4*, and she was honored as the winner of both the USEA SmartPak Advanced Horse of the Year and the USEA Mare of the Year leaderboards.
DONNER: Donner amassed a huge fan club this year as he dominated cross country in his trademark Thoroughbred style. Affectionally nicknamed Donner the Deer, he started 2013 by winning the very competitive CIC3* division at The Fork with rider Lynn Symansky. Just a few weeks later, he finished fifth on his dressage score in his first CCI4* at Rolex. While not the fanciest mover, he makes up for it on cross country, where he didn’t pick up a single jumping penalty all season. He finished off a stellar 2013 by placing 13th at the Pau CCI4*, where he had the fastest cross-country trip. He finished the year in fourth place on the USEA SmartPak Advanced Horse of the Year leaderboard.
GIN & JUICE: A perpetual favorite with fans, spunky Gin & Juice continued her stellar Advanced career in 2013, starting the season with an incredible three wins in a row at Twin Rivers Advanced, Copper Meadows Advanced and the Galway Downs CIC3*. She and Hawley Bennett-Awad then finished eighth at Rolex, adding just .4 jumping penalties to their dressage score. Always a feisty mare, Ginny relaxed to put in one of the best dressage tests of her career at the Pau CCI4*, where she ultimately finished in 16th place. Ginny ended the season in third place on both the USEA SmartPak Advanced Horse of the Year and the USEA Mare of the Year leaderboards.
R-STAR: An absolute force to be reckoned with, R-Star’s powerhouse jumping style and lovely movement on the flat has made her a perennial favorite with fans. The stunning mare started her season by finishing third in the spring CIC3* at Galway Downs with Kristi Nunnink before heading to Rolex to finish eighth. Rosie also won the CIC3* at Rebecca Farm and was the Reserve Champion in the Advanced division at the American Eventing Championships. She finished in second place on both the USEA SmartPak Advanced Horse of the Year and the USEA Mare of the Year leaderboards.